It was not foreign, the feeling of my heart opening up. Hopeful, wanting, wishing. What was strange was that it didn’t go away. After all, it’s simply not safe to leave a house’s front door open for too long.
I had planned the invitations in advance, but you read my mind before my writing and walked in without warning. We had a cup of coffee with a slice of bread, and even though we both wanted to discuss the stars and moons and possibilities, nobody took the initiative. And so the days went, so empty yet so full of anticipation and confusion and holding back. At first, you stayed only an hour or so, but soon your stays were elongated. Eventually, I found I had let you rent a portion of my house. I accepted no pay, because your presence alone provided a sense of security far stronger than if I were to close the door. Your company soothed me, and I ignored those who called me stupid for letting you occupy so much space without anything in return.
After a while, I took the first step. My thoughts were building up, and I wanted to discuss the stars and moons and possibilities. You, however, responded to my ideas by offering me more of the stale bread I had had grown used to and was bored of. Disappointed, I too reverted back to our old ways. I thought perhaps that way, at least, you might stay longer; it could get quite lonely in this house by myself. You didn’t, though.
Early one morning, you left a messy note informing me that you would be back soon, that you had gone out for some fresh air. My door was open, as it was before you entered, and your footsteps had left fresh marks in the snow leading away. Patiently, I waited for you to come back, for us to sip cold coffee together, pretending we like the taste of stale bread. When your familiar laugh sounded, I raced outside to welcome you back – but you weren’t even looking in my direction. I watched as he laughed with you, and I watched still when he unlocked his door to let you in. It was bound to happen, of course, but I wasn’t prepared. You didn’t even take your things.
My door stayed open that whole time. When snow drifted in, landing on the carpet you used to step on, my door was open. When the ice melted and flowers started to bloom, my door was open. When your footsteps walked up my steps, when your scent was carried inside by the slight breeze, my door was open. My burst of excitement at your return was, however, quickly extinguished when I realized the nothing had changed since you left. Our coffee was only getting colder, our bread staler, our thoughts more closed off than ever. It wasn’t a big surprise when you left again, this time without a note. It was alright at first; you were probably happier. His house was probably more welcoming, and you probably discussed the stars and moons and possibilities with them. I threw out everything you left behind and heated up my coffee. I took out my thoughts on the stars and moons and possibilities and scribbled them in empty books. Each passing day I forgot a little more about you, and I even visited other houses to discuss better things and drink hot coffee. The one thing left of you in my house was the note you left when you first left, and I would reread it every night.
One day, I passed you in the street, heading the opposite direction. We talked for a while, and our usual cold coffee and stale bread was absent. I invited you back to my house and poured us each a cup of hot coffee. It was perhaps a bit too much, as we both winced at the sudden burn. Nevertheless, we continued our conversation, and to the disbelief of my ears, you started talking about the stars and moons and possibilities. All the cold coffee and stale bread in the world couldn’t dull your words then, and I listened to every single one that spilled out of your mouth. We were finally discussing the stars and moons and possibilities, as I’d always wanted to, and I was so wonderstruck I didn’t notice the fine print. The cups of too-hot coffee helped our conversations last through the night, the next nights, and, I hoped, all the nights to come. You did return to his house every morning, but I didn’t mind. I had forgotten about forgetting you, along with all my past frustration and disappointment. Your company once again became a highly anticipated event, and I hardly noticed the coffee in my house rapidly running out from our sleepless nights of conversation.
There was always something off with our discussions, though; the aforementioned fine print I hadn’t read. Your enthusiasm, like our coffee, was too much. Sometimes you advanced to the moons before I even shared my ideas about the stars, and other times you never shared any ideas, instead asking me for my opinions. Sometimes we were simply talking about different galaxies. Still, we were finally discussing the stars and moons and possibilities, which, to me, was infinitely better than cold coffee and stale bread.
I never realized you were just leading me on. I never realized you just wanted my ideas and opinions so you could pass them off as your own to him. Him, who you were still staying with, who you probably spent much longer discussing the stars and moons and possibilities with. Who you probably never even had cold coffee and stale bread with.
After your inevitable leave, my door was still open. I was still rereading that first note you left because you didn’t even bother to tell me you were leaving for good this time. I wanted lengthy discussions about the stars and moons and possibilities, but that wasn’t an option on your menu for me.
It wasn’t foreign, the feeling of my heart opening up. There’s just one problem: it’s not closing.